The other player in the North Korea crisis: Iran
BY Bridget Johnson
Pay no attention to that mullah behind the curtain, the North Korean regime implicitly orders the world as they keep ramping up missile tests, increasing the volume of bellicose rhetoric and crafting their four-missile plan for attacking Guam.
While North Korea tests the system by wagging its rogue nuclear power, Iran wants to know how the globe reacts. And this observation isn’t happening in a vacuum, as Iran, North Korea and the rest of their friends take notes on how their axis can hoodwink our allies.
Because theirs is a long-term relationship, they also have the motivation to move closer to each other in not only fighting the Great Satan but in worrisome financial and military bonds.
On Aug. 3, the No. 2-ranking official in North Korea, president of the Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Yong Nam, arrived in Tehran for a 10-day visit, longer than many honeymoons and suspected to be chock-full of meetings on how the two can widen cooperation in a range of fields and battle sanctions hand-in-hand.
Pyongyang just opened an embassy in Tehran to, as the state-run Korean Central News Agency declared, “boost exchanges, contacts and cooperation between the two countries for world peace and security and international justice.”
They’ve already had a share-and-share-alike relationship when it comes to missile technology, with Iran’s Shahab-3 intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of striking Israel almost mirroring the North Korean No Dong 1 — and Pyongyang, in the line of nefarious hand-me-downs, likely borrowed their engine technology from Russia.
Iran was an investor in the No Dong before it even went to the testing ground. This long-running “you do the research, we provide the cash” marriage is basically tailored for a post-P5+1 deal world: Iran rakes in the dough from lifted sanctions, continues their ballistic missile program that wasn’t included in the deal, and has extra cash from above board or under the table to send North Korea’s way for continued nuclear development and testing that will be shared with Tehran in the end.
To avert a potentially devastating conflict, the State Department is dangling the offer of conditional talks with North Korea. And Iran would be an invisible yet powerfully influential presence in the negotiating room.
Johnson is a senior fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center and D.C. bureau chief for PJ Media.